Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Chocolate Journey

In Milwaukee’s Brookfield Square Mall there is a chocolate shop. Its name is Maroon Bells. They offer a wide variety of attractively displayed chocolates. At the door of the shop is a table containing free samples. The intent is clear…one sample = one sale. It is a very effective strategy. This is the story of how a box of chocolates made a journey of some 3,500 miles from Milwaukee to a remote village in northern Peru. But first a bit about chocolates in general.

Chocolates don’t need a visa or passport. They don’t go through immigration. They don’t go through security as you and I do. They don’t have to bother removing their shoes, belt, watches or “other metal objects.” They also don’t have to be scanned nude at security, which is good because as everyone knows, chocolates are painfully shy and not given to exhibitionism.  They are required to pass through customs with their guardians but in this instance they were lucky and got the green light at the Lima airport.

They travel well. They don’t delay fellow passengers by trying to force their impossibly oversized carry-on into the overhead bin during the boarding process. They don’t need to be entertained; their ears don’t pop at altitude; they don’t experience restless leg syndrome; they never pace the aisle waiting for the “occupied” light to go out, and they don’t have to decide between “chicken or pasta”

For all their positive attributes chocolates are not very bright. No chocolate has ever won a Nobel Prize nor contributed anything meaningful to the advancement of humanity. But their claims to fame…appearance and flavor have endeared them for thousands of years to the gods and we mere mortals. They know they’re desirable and for many, irresistible yet they remain humble which only adds to their attractiveness. Anyway, let’s return to this particular box of chocolates.

As we have learned, they began their journey at the Brookfield Square Mall. From there they were gently and securely placed in a virgin piece of Nautica luggage which their guardians had purchased both because it was needed and because of the distinctive yellow stripe for recognition purposes at the airport carousal (imagine the look of surprise on the guardian’s faces when they saw a man with identical luggage at the Lima airport!). Next they were driven to the Milwaukee airport where they boarded a plane to Atlanta. After changing planes in Atlanta they flew to Lima. Following a six hour lay-over (chocolates never complain about lay-overs) they were winging their way to Chiclayo.  In Chiclayo they were repacked and taken to a bus station to begin a seven hour ride to Jaèn, where they were picked up by a man who drove them into the Andes Mountains and after crossing one river by barge and fording another arrived in the village of Zapotal.
Mountains, palm trees and jungle foliage indicated to the chocolates that they were definitely not in Brookfield Square. But no matter…they took comfort from the smiling face of the little girl who had been eagerly waiting for them. Claudia Joyce in Zapotal knew that her Godmother Joyce in Milwaukee would not forget her. 

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